According to the daily Frankfurter Rundschau this week the German government has, in an official document, referred to the massacre of Herero and Nama people at the turn of the 20th century as genocide. Acceptance is a beginning. But what is badly needed from Berlin is more than a reference to accepting what happened in 1904 on the annihilation order by their Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha.
Germany needs to issue a formal apology. That would be bring closure to the descendants – the grandchildren of the thousands of Namibians who died because of that order.
It would not bring them back. But it would surely ease the pain of what happened in what the Europeans then called German South West Africa. We called, and still do call it, Namibia.
Our understanding is that Namibia’s Special Envoy on the Genocide and Reparation Negotiations Dr Zed Ngavirue has not yet received any formal communication from the German side regarding the change in stance and terminology. We also understand that the reparation issue is now receiving serious attention through diplomatic channels between Namibia and Germany.
We would welcome Germany’s formal apology for the genocide it committed a century ago. Instead of Germany trying to rush the negotiations or attempting to influence the outcome of the negotiations, she should start first by looking at a formal apology.